Starting this month, the NBA’s season will resume at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex. Here’s what you can expect.
This month, the NBA’s 2019-20 season resumes and concludes at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex, with games beginning on July 30. If necessary, Game 7 of the NBA Finals will occur no later than Oct. 12. While fans won’t be in attendance, games will be televised.
State and local officials have always prioritized the importance of big sporting events as a fabric of our community. As is often the case, Orlando was among the first cities rumored to host the resumption of the NBA. Las Vegas was also considered as a host site for Western Conference teams. Disney’s relationship with the NBA through its ownership of ESPN/ABC gave Orlando an extreme advantage for hosting events of this magnitude.
How it Will Work
The league has invited 22 of 30 teams — nine from the Eastern Conference and 13 from the Western Conference. Teams six and a half games out of the playoffs prior to the suspension of play will not attend.
Each of the 22 teams will play eight games for playoff seeding. If at the end of the eight games, the ninth seed, which is typically eliminated from playoff consideration at season’s end, is within four games of the number eight seed, there will be a play-in tournament to decide who earns the final playoff spots in each conference.
What it Means for the Magic
Currently the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, the Magic are five and a half games ahead of the Washington Wizards. If the Wizards can’t make up at least one and a half games in the standings, the Magic will represent the Eastern Conference as the eighth seed. There is still hope for the Magic to earn the seventh seed, as they sit just one half of a game behind the current seventh seed, the Brooklyn Nets.
The playoff format will remain the same as it has in prior years, with teams competing in a best-of-seven series for all rounds. As of press time, it was still unclear if and how higher-seeded teams would be rewarded with an alternative to the typical home-court advantage. However, teams that make it through the first round can reserve up to 17 rooms for guests of players.
What it Will Look Like
The NBA has outlined its health and safety protocols in a 113-page handbook. For players, this includes self-isolation upon arrival and a requirement of two negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart before they can access the campus. They also have the option of wearing a proximity alarm that notifies them if they’re within 6 feet of someone else who’s wearing one (something that team and league staff are required to wear).
Off the court, teams are split between three deluxe Disney resorts -— Gran Destino, Grand Floridian and Yacht Club — based on their standings. And, yes, the Magic will be required to stay within the Disney bubble, too. Players will have access to entertainment and recreational activities on campus and can socialize as long as they’re following social distancing protocol.